ORMOC CITY – Three dump trucks and a backhoe owned by the Hanjin-Yakal consortium which is working on a P 2.2-billion contract in Eastern Samar, funded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), were torched by members of the New People’s Army at around 9:00 in the morning of Wednesday, December 10.
Maj. Gen. Jet Velarmino, 8th Infantry Division commander, told media that the torching happened at the contractor’s quarrying site near Binalay River in Gen. MacArthur town in Eastern Samar.
Accordingly, an estimated 20 armed men swooped down on seven workers who were on site and demanded for them to leave. After which, they torched the heavy equipment.
Velarmino also slammed the NPA, saying that they have taken advantage of the situation when people were still suffering from the aftermath of Typhoon Ruby and the Army were busy helping in the relief efforts.
The Hanjin-Yakal consortium is working on the rehabilitation of 77.5 kilometers of existing road cutting through seven municipalities in Eastern Samar: Llorente, Hernani, General McArthur, Quinapondan, Salcedo, Mercedes, and Guiuan. In addition, a total of nine bridges will be replaced and five others will be rehabilitated.
The project is targeted to be completed within 36 months or until April 15, 2016, though it is not clear if there are adjustments allowed for their timeline because Eastern Samar has had a doubly whammy from Yolanda last 2013, and just this week from Ruby.
The burning of the heavy equipment is timed with Pres. Benigno Simeon C. Aquino’s visit to South Korea to attend the ASEAN conference there, and is viewed as an effort to embarrass the President with his Korean hosts.
Despite the incident, the President was reportedly to have been warmly received with Korea’s head of state committing to help the country furthermore. Korea was active in helping the country recover from its recent crisis, when Yolanda slammed through Eastern Visayas. A contingent from the Korean Army stayed around for one year to help in various rehabilitation efforts.
On the other hand, the National Democratic Front, when reached for their comment, have not yet issued an official statement regarding the incident. By Mel Caspe and Lalaine M. Jimenea